Roundtable of legal experts addresses sexual harassment
As the profession reels from the recent Dyson Heydon revelations, the Law Council of Australia held a national roundtable to address the prevalence of sexual harassment.
Amid revelations former High Court Justice Heydon targeted six women as they worked as judge’s associates, the Law Council of Australia (LCA) welcomed regulators and associations across the profession to address the needed critical change.
The aim of the roundtable was to provide expertise to refine policy positions for specific legislative reforms and further develop approaches that can be adopted within the law profession. According to LCA president Pauline Wright, the needed reform is “entirely appropriate, is necessary and overdue” to address sexual harassment.
“There remains much work to be undertaken by the Law Council and all stakeholders to refine and implement the proposals for reform and actions agreed at the roundtable. The Law Council will work with its constituent member associations to develop these measures into a blueprint for action to address sexual harassment,” Ms Wright said.
The roundtable agreed the legal profession should act upon key recommendations in the Australian Human Rights Commission’s [email protected] Report. Other areas that were identified as needing reform included defamation, conduct rules, occupational health and safety laws and the typical time limits enforced to make complaints.
Experts also acknowledged that law reform must be “accompanied by cultural change” which could be achieved by including a national model sexual harassment policy and guidelines for a centralised source of information. The roundtable also requested the facilitation of consistent complaints processes across Australia.
“The legal profession must come together in times like this to reflect on what we can do better and work together to improve the experiences of all legal professionals,” Ms Wright said.